NBA Playoff Picture: What Just Happened?

Lesson: when you have two impossibly tight playoff chases and a night with 10 games, you are going to end up with a mess of a bracket. We try to sort it out below the jump.

We'll start in the East, and run from the top on down.

The Heat won, making up a half-game on the Bulls in the chase for No. 1 in the conference. Miami is now two games back.

Indiana bolstered its hold on No. 3 with a victory. The Pacers now have a one game lead over the Magic (who were idle) and maintain a 1.5-game lead on the Hawks.

The No. 4 seed, which will go to the Atlantic champion, stays in the hands of the Celtics, despite Boston's loss. Philadelphia also lost, and remains 1.5 games behind Boston. New York was idle, and now trails the Celtics by 3.5 games.

The Magic sit at No. 5, but now are 1.5 games better than Boston, and as such would own home court advantage in the first round. Atlanta, winners on Wednesday, are just a half-game behind Orlando, however. (The thank you card to Brendan Haywood is in the mail.) The Hawks also have a better record than the Celtics, but are stuck in No. 6.

No. 7 Philadelphia's lead over the Knicks shrunk to two games.

Milwaukee won, so the Knicks lead over the Bucks for No. 8 shrunk to one game.


The West!

We have drama at the top! The Thunder lost to the Heat, and the Spurs edged the C's, leaving San Antonio just one game behind Oklahoma City for the No. 1 seed. San Antonio has won nine straight. Uh oh.

The Lakers' win over the Clippers was obviously huge: it gave the Lake Show the season series win and put them 2.5 games up over the Clips in the race for No. 3 in the West. That's a big gap at this game, especially with the tiebreaker advantage.

Dallas beat Memphis to square those teams up at No. 5 -- they sit 1.5 games behind the Clippers. Denver's loss launched Houston into the No. 7 seed; the Rockets are knotted with the Nuggets at 29-25, with the Jazz (who lost) now 1.5 games out. But the Suns were victorious, and now have the No. 9 spot to themselves just one game behind the Rockets and Nuggets.

Portland is 3.5 games out.

Here's what the brackets would look like is the season abruptly ended.


Bulls (1) vs. Knicks (8)
Heat (2) vs. Sixers (7)
Pacers (3) vs. Hawks (6)
Celtics (4) vs. Magic (5)*

* Magic would have home court advantage due to a better record.


Thunder (1) vs. Nuggets (8)
Spurs (2) vs. Rockets (7)
Lakers (3) vs. Mavericks (6) !
Clippers (4) vs. Grizzlies (5)

! Wait, for real? This is awesome. Has anyone seen J.J. Barea?

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